Sunday, 2 March 2008

You Know You've Been in China Too Long When...

I guess it doesn’t matter where you live, you always tend to divide life into the positives and negatives. When you live in someone else country you tend to focus on the negatives!

About a year ago I tripped over a list that had been doing the rounds amongst the expatriates living in China for several years. Whilst only funny or pertinent to those living here, or have lived here – it does give an unusual insight into the quirky and weird aspects that eventually become matter of fact.

The title of the list - “You know you have been in China for too long when... “ The full list is available on but here are a few of my favourites – with a few of my own added.

  • The footprints on the toilet seat are your own.

  • You’ve totally lost any concept of queuing.

  • You stop at the top or bottom of an escalator to plan your day.

  • It becomes exciting to see if you can get on the lift before anyone can get off.

  • It is no longer surprising that the only decision made at a meeting is the time and venue for the next meeting.

  • You rank the decision-making abilities of your staff by how long it takes them to reply "Up To You".

  • You no longer wonder how someone who earns US$ 400.00 per month can drive a Mercedes.

  • You find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is on final approach.

  • You can shake your hands almost perfectly dry before wiping them on your trousers, or you have your suits made with terrycloth pockets.

  • You have developed an uncontrollable urge to follow people carrying small flags.

  • You are not surprised when three men with a ladder show up to change a light bulb. You look over people's shoulder to see what they are reading

  • When shopping at Carrefour some laowai stares you down for catching you looking into his basket while you wonder to yourself what laowai's eat.

  • You wear nylons when it is 30 degrees outside One of your fingernails is an inch long.

  • In a meeting you say everything will be 'wonderful' and give no details.

  • You forget that the other person needs to finish speaking before you can start.

  • You walk through the zoo, and at each animal you ask yourself 'How would I prepare this ?'

  • When you chain smoke and carry a little leather man handbag, complete with a matching phone holder.

  • You think NOTHING of seeing several people laying on a gurney with an IV connected to them OUTSIDE of a hospital.

  • You let your two and a half yr old kid set off some bangers/fireworks in the vein hope that the 'money god' will bring you fortune this year, while fully unaware that the 'save blown of limbs god' hasn't been invented yet

  • You can't believe that construction workers in other countries don't wear suits while mixing cement/pushing wheelbarrels around or while drilling holes in the middle of busy roads during rush hour.

  • You no longer need tissues to blow your nose.

  • When at a pedestrian crossing in your own country you stand there waiting and wondering why the cars have stopped for you.

  • You see models on tv from the West and think, "man, they're kinda chubby".

  • As soon as it gets hot you roll your shirt up under your pits, and your trousers up to your knees, whilst still wearing your popsocks and black (unpolished) shoes.

  • When you can squat over the toilet, with the door open, reading a newspaper and having a fag.

  • When you start to like chicken feet...

  • You yell into the mobile phone regardless of your surroundings.

  • You don’t take the plastic covering off any electrical purchase – ever! You throw your money down on the counter to pay for something.

  • When someone's cooking "Chou Toufu" and you think "Smells good !"

  • When u're shocked when u go 2 consecutive days w/o diahrrea.

  • People blast off fireworks and you could care less and don't even bother looking at the display.

Those are the everyday ones – now for some driving “you know you have been in China too long when” (Just for you Ash!)

  • The indicator stalks on your car are just somewhere to hang another air-freshener

  • The rear view mirror is permanently angled to your partners seat for her to put her makeup on.

  • Door mirrors are just a inconvenience when cutting through tight gaps.

  • As a passenger of a car, you stick your socked/non-socked feet out the window.

  • It comes as a surprise when you finally reach the tollgate after a 30-minute queue that they might actually need some money.

  • There are only two settings to your headlights – off and full beam, and you use them indiscriminately.

  • After picking up your new leather seated vehicle you cover them with knitted seat covers (To protect them!).

  • Traffic signals are merely a guide – not a rule.

  • The ability to roll a cigarette, send a text message, read a map and pick your nose whilst performing a 3 point turn in the middle of traffic.

  • When you find nothing wrong with reversing in the fast lane of a highway because you think you should have taken the last exit.

  • Anyone who drives a vehicle not black or silver is being ostentatious.

  • The hard shoulder is any just an empty lane waiting to be used!

  • You start looking at vehicle registrations in terms of lucky numbers.

  • You don’t feel the need to change your tyres until you can see steel.

  • There are hundreds more – so please feel free to send them in. Next week - "You know you've been an expat too long when..."

    1 comment:

    Paul Stowe said...

    You can follow this story on 'ChinaCarTimes'